A bespoke Career Management System trusted by over 1,500 universities in the US and UK.

August 2, 2021

Over the past year, higher ed institutions have faced unprecedented challenges. Universities still face budget uncertainties, combined with uncertain admissions and IT constraints. All these numbers can make it hard to have conversations about investment in new technologies. Yet the need for innovation is greater than ever. For most higher ed institutions, the use of blended system environments has become increasingly common.

Recent developments surrounding COVID-19 have highlighted the benefits of how the interoperability of software systems and content has the potential to create a more integrated student experience. This stands in stark contrast to discrete and isolated systems, steeped in structural inefficiencies that breed inequality.

Personalisation is Key: and a missing feature in one size fits all approaches.

Students approaching the world of work, face daunting labour market statistics, fierce competition, and an uncertain economy. The stakes feel higher than ever.  In the midst of these challenges having technology that can build confidence, break down structural barriers, and empower careers teams to scale their impact is crucial.

We describe Handshake as intuitive, because the experience is designed to be as simple as possible. Students do not need to be trained how to use the platform - it comes as naturally to them as the social media sites they use every day. Handshake is also accessible on desktop and mobile with native applications on the iOS and Android App Stores. 

Today’s students expect personalised experiences, and, just like social media algorithms, Handshake’s job’s dashboard surfaces the right opportunities to the right students. This crafts a highly relevant experience for every student based on their activity and interests, keeping them engaged and increasing satisfaction. Importantly, these algorithms help students discover opportunities they may never have thought to search for. 

This type of personalisation is only possible with massive datasets that far exceed the population of any one university. University CRMs masquerading as a jobs board simply aren’t built for this type of student experience. A lack of personalisation lowers student engagement. In the absence of a personalised discovery experience, students reply on search. A solely search based experience disadvantages employers who don’t have a brand name students recognise (and thus think to search for) which can jeopardise critical university relationships. 

Having undertaken dozens of conversations as part of Handshake’s ‘Netpotism’ research paper, we’ve learnt that leadership teams are commonly the driving forces behind the consolidation of systems onto a university-wide system. This risks unpredictable consequences for students' experience due to the lack of customisation and the friction it creates for any external stakeholders. The [virtual] student candidate’s journey today is fragmented, disjointed, and anxiety ridden. It’s a sorry tale of two processes, with no happy ending.

Networks extend access to opportunity for students and universities alike. 

For many employers, great talent is hard to access: having to post opportunities to bespoke systems at tens or even hundreds of different institutions requires too much time and resources.  This forces prioritisation and means that companies often choose a small set of institutions to share their opportunities with. Such student recruitment patterns tend to perpetuate the long-standing social divisions for institutions and their students.

Top universities aren’t immune to this. Our experience working with over 1,500 universities in the United States and United Kingdom shows that all universities - regardless of ranking, brand prominence, student population, etc - lose out on opportunities for their students when their primary career management system requires employers to manage a bespoke account and posting workflow. 

The Handshake network changes the way employers find talent from reactive to proactive. Employers have one place to manage all their relationships with universities centrally, for free. This increases access to opportunity and enables teams to personalise the experience and create genuine connections with students. 

For companies like FDM Group, this can be a game changer. Their Graduate Recruitment team consists of 15 individuals spread across over 60 partner universities, but recruiting from all different institutions in the UK. Katherine Brewster, one of our Early Talent podcast guests called out the lessons learned when recruiting on Handshake’s collective network:

“Adding that personal element, adding a photograph of the individuals and their name as well has really helped.” - Katherine Brewster, UK University Partnerships Manager at FDM Group. 

Career management systems are unique in the role they play in bridging the gap between the university and external stakeholders (employers). 

The user experience principles driving universities to pursue centralised and seamless experiences for students are the same factors that make the Handshake network so valuable for employers. The key difference is that employers, particularly SMEs, are far less likely to jump through the hoops required of them when universities invest in bespoke systems for careers. 

University systems that are architected as a network offer unique value to students by removing barriers to connections. Making an integrated student experience a priority.

The interoperability of software systems with a career management platform, combines the benefits of a made for purpose system with a seamless student experience. . Whether you are evaluating existing systems or looking to integrate a new one, the user experience, combined with unique  characteristics, should heavily influence your adoption decisions. 

Below, we look at ways that universities have approached integrating Handshake into their student experience. To learn more about the technical capabilities for integrating Handshake into university systems, visit our blog here.

The best of both worlds. A networked system that talks to the university CRMs. 

Optimising for a great student experience can be really challenging. It’s particularly hard to capture memorable experiences for your students with a  “one system fits all” approach. Having a system that is designed for the unique needs, and incorporates emotional context and key stakeholders will create a far better experience every single time. A prerequisite for success is that those systems can talk to each other - as we all know, any friction makes it more difficult to engage with students across the university.

We believe that these systems and automations can boost awareness of resources that are available, whether that’s in the context of job opportunities, events and fairs. And they can then report back to a centralised university system and context on a university wide scale. Handshake is a networked system positioned to facilitate and inform these broader university strategies.

Linking solutions with Handshake as a Career Management System. 

We asked two of our US university partners to share a bit about their experience of harmonising their career services solutions with Handshake. Here’s what they said!

“In addition to Handshake, we also use the Salesforce software to track student outcomes.  Thanks to Handshake’s reporting capabilities, it’s easy to keep both systems in sync with one another — I just run a weekly report in Handshake of the student information I want to add to the Salesforce system, and then import that information.  Importing information from Handshake helps us use the information in Salesforce to identify groups of students who need support with summer internships or post-graduation plans and reach out to them. Our Handshake data helps us stay as highly engaged with the student population as we can!”

- James Jackson (Assistant Director Business Analytics and Systems Integration at University of Chicago, Illinois)

“Our main data analysis tool that we use is Tableau. Now that we have scheduled reports in Handshake, we use them for all of our engagement data. I have several reports that come from the appointments module, the events module, the interview module, the career fair module, so that we know who attended the different pieces of Handshake every month. I use Tableau to combine everything and match it up with the First Destination data that also gets exported from Handshake and the summer experience data. We download all of our engagement data and all of the event data: the event name, the event date and the number of people registered. In Tableau, I can merge those things together to create one tool to use to analyse. Using Handshake and Tableau together, we feel much more confident in our ability to answer questions accurately and timely.”

- Kristi Geist (Senior Analyst at Princeton University, New Jersey)

These case studies propose two examples of frameworks for understanding how the collaboration between systems can impact organisational change. Learn more about how to ‘Automate the data import process’ and use the ‘Jitterbit Data Loader’ for Salesforce with Handshake, to create more positive outcomes for your team.

To find out more about how Handshake makes it easy to surface content across other university systems, you can read our blog: Integrating Handshake into the Student Experience.